Corporates unite in the quest for renewables

Apple and Microsoft, Google and Facebook, Walmart and Amazon. These corporate giants are not always friendly to each other, but in one area at least they are prepared to cooperate: renewable energy.

All these companies, and many other large energy consumers in America, want more renewables to power their operations and struggle to find enough. This is why four organizations – the World Resources Institute, the World Wide Fund for Nature, Business for Social Responsibility and the Rocky Mountain Institute – decided to join forces and form the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). REBA is the group of NGOs that work with Fortune 500 companies to develop procurement strategies for renewable energy.

Why such an initiative? “60 % of Fortune 100 companies and 43 % of Fortune 500
have greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy or energy efficiency targets. Their commitments mean an enormous demand for renewable power,” explains Letha Tawney, Director of Utility Innovation at the World Resources Institute. “We estimate that the 58 companies we are working more closely with will need 44 million MWh of new renewables contracts by 2020. Looking at their targets, this demand may triple in the long term.”

It is complicated, however, to fulfill such needs. In many states there are little or no options to get more renewables. “Whether you are a residential or a commercial customer, in most of the US you cannot change electricity supplier and, where renewable energy is available with guarantee of origin, you often have to buy it at a premium price,” says Tawney. In these circumstances, companies can negotiate – alone or jointly with others – power purchase agreement with the monopoly utility, sign such agreements with another supplier or make their own investment in renewables. Each option has its own downsides. […]

REBA aims to overcome such difficulties by building dialogue and making connections among the different players. “There isn’t any other forum for companies to engage with developers and utilities, and discuss how to overcome barriers in a way that is not competitive,” says Tawney. “There are many clean energy industry associations and NGOs working on the supply side. We bring buyers to the table.” […]

The full article was published on Sun & Wind Energy magazine, August 2016. Photo: wind turbines in Cherokee and Buena Vista Counties, Northwestern Iowa, available via Wikimedia Commons.